What is the difference between a speech pathologist and a speech therapist?
One thing that gets confusing is why are we “speech-language pathologists”? And why aren’t we *officially* “speech therapists”? American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is our national governing body. ASHA officially says we are “speech-language pathologists.” SLP is an acronym we use.
Here’s the thing where it gets murky: SLPs provide speech therapy. Oddly, we don’t provide “speech pathology.” But why are there occupational therapists and physical therapists? They are our counterparts in many settings. And they provide occupational therapy and physical therapy (respectively)?
But why speech-language pathologists?
So I believe that our profession wants to emphasize the work we do as diagnosticians. A big part of our work is performing speech and language evaluations. That to me is what makes sense. Therefore, the emphasis is more on evaluation/diagnosis than it is on therapy because of the name.
What about other countries?
Other countries name our profession differently. The UK and countries in their tradition call SLPs “speech language therapists” or “speech therapists.” However, in Australia they use the term “speech pathologists.” If you are traveling or working abroad, make sure you learn the correct terminology.
One final note
In terms of correcting people, I actually don’t like to correct people. I especially will not correct the parents of my students. I feel like it could be perceived as rude. However, I will correct other school-based professionals (like teachers, administration, and other related service staff). It’s not worth it to correct others if it could undermine my rapport with families.